Kentucky Downs ushers in its boutique turf meet Monday with four stakes races, anchored by the $750,000 Tourist Mile on the track’s signature European-style course.
Trainer Richard Baltas is double-handed with Grade 1 veteran Next Shares and Neptune’s Storm. Next Shares, who owns a local win in the 2018 Old Friends, looks to bounce back from trailing in the July 10 Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) at Keeneland behind War of Will and Parlor. In his prior starts at Santa Anita, Next Shares had turned in a couple of excellent placings in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1) and Shoemaker Mile (G1). Grade 2 winner Neptune’s Storm, twice placed to Mo Forza last season, comes off a third to United in the Eddie Read (G2).
Parlor, who’s placed in a trio of Kentucky Downs stakes, almost sprang a 24-1 upset of War of Will at Keeneland last out. The Mike Maker claim is joined by stablemate Hembree, another with course experience and most recently third in the prep stakes at Ellis Park to Spectacular Gem. (According to Daily Racing Form, the cross-entered Spectacular Gem is expected to run in the Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic [G1] on Derby Day.)
Chad Brown dispatches Flavius from Saratoga. A sparingly raced Juddmonte homebred, Flavius has run well in defeat in the Ft. Lauderdale (G2) and First Defence S. in his last pair. Once-beaten Brazilian star Ivar just wired a Churchill Downs allowance in his second U.S. outing for Paulo Lobo. Defending champion Snapper Sinclair; Blitzkrieg, winner of the American (G3) two back for Doug O’Neill; Emmaus, fourth in the Fourstardave (G1) in his latest; Ritzy A.P.; and Wesley Ward’s Ramsey Solution round out the cast of 12.
An overflow field of 16 distaffers entered the $300,000 One Dreamer Stakes at a mile and 70 yards. Topping the main group of 12 are Grade 2 vixen Varenka from the Graham Motion barn, potentially improving in this third start of the season, and Shug McGaughey’s Saratoga shipper Passing Out, third in both the Beaugay (G3) and after a checkered passage in the De La Rose S.
Other contenders include Madita, multiple Group 3-placed in her native Germany; fellow German import Dalika, who stretches back out from sprints; well-bred Our Bay B Ruth, a winner over the course last fall en route to taking the Tropical Park Oaks; recent Yellow Ribbon (G2) third Harmless; Xanthique, who’s won two straight in New York; Ward’s Keeneland allowance scorer Speedy Solution; Strike My Fancy, a neck second in an Ellis stakes; and Queen Medb, on the upswing after dominating an Indiana Grand allowance. The second of four on the also-eligible list, the Brown-trained Tapit Today, exits a fourth in the Matchmaker (G3).
A pair of mile stakes for 2-year-olds, each worth $500,000, are also on tap Labor Day.
The Juvenile Stakes attracted a field of 10. Ward has two stepping up from sprints, Spa debut winner Outadore and Gypsy King who scored at Ellis in his third try. Shawdyshawdyshawdy prevailed first up at Saratoga going a route, while Pivotal Mission, a troubled third at the Spa, is intriguing as a maiden for Motion. Indy Tourist, from the first crop of Tourist, trounced an Indiana Grand maiden at this trip, and Dreamer’s Disease, cross-entered to Saturday’s Iroquois (G3), went wire to wire at Ellis.
Smart Saratoga firster Plum Ali was scratched from the off-the-turf P.G. Johnson, and trainer Christophe Clement reroutes her to the oversubscribed Juvenile Fillies Stakes. Ward entered two of his Royal Ascot also-rans, but only one got into the 12-strong main body of the field – Sunshine City, who’s since won at Colonial Downs. Royal Approval, the second of two also-eligibles, was last seen finishing a long way behind stablemate Campanelle in the Queen Mary (G2).
Adirondack (G2) third Ava’s Grace tries the turf, while Ken McPeek’s duo of Dream Quist and Oliviaofthedesert likewise switch surfaces following maiden romps on the Ellis main. Also worth a look are Brad Cox stablemates Cecile’s Chapter and Beautiful Star. Longshot Yogurt, who bumped into Beautiful Memories and Fabricate in her first two dirt starts, broke her maiden on turf before flopping in the Debutante, and could appreciate reverting to grass.